Blood and Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz and IKI Instructors

July 2015

As the head instructor of IKI Krav Maga I have made a promise to address every issue and every question raised by students/instructors/members of our organization.

The issue was recently brought to my attention of Krav Maga instructors using live blades for training.

There are instructors out there, teaching various forms of self-defense or even calling it Krav Maga who are advocating a "sacrifice move" of grabbing a knife, and allowing oneself to be cut "only on the dry skin of the palms".

In most countries there are no national boards certifying or overseeing Krav Maga instructors. Thus, nearly anyone can rent a space and call themselves an instructor. New styles emerge everyday.

Buyer beware.

Thus it worries me when someone advocates using live weapons for self-defense training. There are people out there who might be turned on by this. There are people who might be drawn or attracted to this really "cool" stuff.

I am concerned about the idea of using real blades for training. My teacher was as tough as they come but even he never even suggested such an idea. Plastic/rubber knifes served us just fine.

I have written many blogs about the dangers of the blade.

Now I am not an EMT but I have worked with many, I have been cut in several fights...but that was in a fight, in training, and I was prepared for it. I have also been accidentally cut by knives. I have had my share of work accidents.  My question is ...What is the effect of being cut by a knife in a real life altercation?

From what I have heard from students over the years the effect is often, usually, total shock. We had a case with a short Italian fellow, attacked outside the Old City of Jerusalem by 3 larger Arabs. When he banged one of the attackers into the wall and the man started bleeding, the two others ran off in a panic.

We had two students, elite security guards in Jerusalem, walking home after a shift, attacked by 5 Arabs, one of the Israeli guards used the magazine of his handgun as a knife, cut one of the Arabs on the cheek; all 5 Arabs fled at once.

So my thoughts are that when a regular person gets cut, unexpectedly, even such a non-lethal cut as these two cases above, people tend to panic. Under those circumstances it is difficult to imagine an effective martial arts defense.

The instructor in question, I have no idea who certified him if anyone, certainly no one in Israel advocates such training and this is not approved of either by Wingate or the IDF, suggests that one should grab the knife with his hands, not use the fingers but use the palms and expect to get cut.

There is a similar video with this guy actually cutting himself to show that it is no big deal to bleed a little.  (Please do not try this in class, certainly not an IKI approved idea at all).

Now lets think out loud. You have a knife to your throat, you grabbed it. How can you grab without using your fingers?  For a baseball player to hit a baseball, he must grab the bat firmly with all 10 fingers. If one finger is broken I can guarantee you that he will not be allowed to play until he is fully healed. Why? Because you need all ten fingers to form a solid reliable grip.

Back to our knife situation. You grabbed without letting the fingers come near the knife...unlikely to work to say the least. But lets assume for a moment that it does. Now a sharp blade is cutting your palms. My guess is that you will feel it, see it and this will cause you to weaken your grip, to slip. At this point your fingers are next, and they cut easily. So now with bloody hands, cut fingers, you are trying to subdue an angry aggressive assailant. (try opening a bottle when you have greasy or oily hands).

Am I the only one who thinks this is insane?

I have seen people get cut and hurt with rubber training knives. I have discontinued using those knives, and upgraded to better knives. We now use safer knives.

We had a member in South Africa who advocated using real knives. He is now no longer part of our organization. Most of his top students stayed with IKI.

We do not want you to get hurt on the street, or in the dojo!

I have seen many bad techniques out there, many things I totally disagree with. But this has crossed all sane boundaries.

Your comments and input are invited.


Experts have written that when it comes to knife wounds or gunshot wounds there are simply way no many variables and different situations to be able to properly answer the question: What will happen. 

"The problem with answering these questions is that almost anything can happen. A gunshot wound can be a minor flesh wound, or it can be immediately fatal — usually if it enters the heart, the brain, on the upper portion of the spinal cord. The gunshot wound could cause damage to internal organs such as the lungs or liver and the victim could bleed to death rapidly, or slowly, or not at all. The same can be said of knife wounds and blunt trauma. Ask any emergency room physician and they will tell you that these types of injuries come in 1000 flavors."

Dr. Kathrine Ramsland

Our Instructors Speak


Being a paramedic and bodyguard I have seen multiple stab wounds and the people who have a better rate of survival, when and only when they are able to stay calm.  This is so VERY difficult for the average person given the significant trauma that the blade creates physically and mentally.  Also, depending on where the victim is cut is dependent upon what we refer to as the GOLDEN HOUR of trauma and in that hour how much blood is lost.  This will give you some idea on how long you have before you are physically incapacitated to the point of blackout or ultimately death.

Hope this helps.

Most Respectfully,

Channel, Florida, USA

Huge mistake; there are techniques where you grab the blade, I have done it, I have been through that training but I only teach it as a last resort and never with a live blade, most knives, even sharp will not cut you in less you get that back to back saw motion going, I have pried live blades out of peoples hands with blade against the palm, typically it will not even cut your fingers if your fingers are touching , but that is a master level of training and we do that behind closed doors with a select group, he is asking for a serious lawsuit if he is telling people that is OK, nowadays to get cut with a live blade can also be death even on the hands, countries where all criminals use blades like South Africa, the blades can be infected with all sorts of disease including HIV / AIDS , criminals are not going to sterilize the blade after an attack or fight, Stoffel told me to get cut by a knife in SA can be a death sentence even if you survive the attack

John Liptak, Florida, USA

Hi Moshe

Interesting that someone cuts himself to prove…. what ? he bleeds ?. How about a demonstration to show us all how easy it is to cut a tendon and render a limb useless or maybe sever a nerve to permanently disable a hand. A little nick to prove one bleeds is just a macho attempt at proving toughness, it actually proves that the instruction is based on delusion and I will explain why,

1. Go to any kitchen draw and you will find knives that are razor sharp, when I say razor sharp I mean the blade is used for slicing.

2. A blade that is grabbed is a blade that can be pulled away by its holder and a pressure hold on a blade will not stop it slicing through flesh and bone.

3.When a tendon is cut the finger or fingers cease to work, I know this because I have a thumb that has tendon issues and it does not work.

Today we have people who will go to any lengths to kill or maim, these people don't carry blunt knives that can be grabbed ….. they carry razor sharp weapons that will slice and dice flesh, this is reality.

Best regards

Tony Preston, England

Considero desde mi humilde opinión. Que en un hecho real, coger la hoja del cuchillo, es un recurso desesperado, por haber fallado la persona en su entrenamiento y preparación adecuada en krav magá.

Y en ocasiones por imitar ejemplos de videos o películas.

Filemón Almaraz Morales, Mexico

Hello Moshe, 

I read with interest your comments. As you know I am a serving police officer and before this I did 5 years working as a bouncer in the pubs and nightclubs of Essex and East London. 

In these capacities I have seen many people who have been attacked with a whole plethora of objects, from a pint glass, bottles, claw hammers, base ball bats and knives to name a few. I have seen some attacks unfold in front of my eyes and some I have turned up at the bloody aftermath.

No attack was the exactly the same and neither was the way the victims reacted, and here in lays the point of topic. It is my belief that certain factors come into play during such instances. 

Firstly how the adrenal syndrome will effect you. Whether you are induced into the fight or flight response, or whether you are one of the poor souls who freeze. Adrenalin is the body's natural defense mechanism and as well as making us stronger and faster in a fight it also gives us anesthesia to pain. 

Secondly your personal resolve. With a cast iron spirit you may override the fear aspect and it will also let you carry on when injured. (Although this is easier with people who are regularly exposed to being in this fear state. Police, security, military, trained fighters etc. ) however I have seen ordinary blokes keep fighting with some very bloody injuries. 

Thirdly drugs and alcohol. If you have a guy who has had 3 lines of coke and 5 pints of lager on a Friday night then he does not fight and react to pain in the same way as someone who is not high. 

I remember speaking to one chap once who had been stabbed twice in the back and who was covered in blood however he did not know he was stabbed during the fight. He initially though he had just been punched hard in the back. Obviously the wound was not to a vital area. 

The real things which stop people are incapacitation (death, unconsciousness or use of noxious liquid or gas such as CS gas or pepper spray although this is not 100% on everyone)  and severe limb damage (break or dislocation) to a major limb. (Not small digit manipulation like fingers and toes).

If this happens then the fight or attack normally stops. 

Here I believe is the crux of the debate. In my experience I don't think we can say that if a blade is grabbed then 100% of people will react in X,Y,Z, of a way mentally. 

However ....... What is a given is that the likelihood of grabbing a sharp blade using the hands will in all probability result in damage to the muscle and tendons which control flexion of the hand, damage to the nerves of the hand or in a worst case damage the ulnar or radial arteries which supply the framework of blood vessels in the hand. (However I have been told this would be difficult as they are deep seated in the hand).

Fights are dynamic, there is movement and this could cause cuts when gripping. This is not a training scenario in a dojo!

So, Yes, you might get the knife off the attacker doing this defense or it might go horribly wrong and because of the injury caused from grabbing the knife you freak out or damage the hand preventing use of the hand and in the end loose the knife anyway. Either way your either dead or have an injury to your hand from the grab that it's life changing physically. 

Why take the risk. So why then court this type of defense when there are better techniques out there? 

If you see people have a go at knife defense with no insight into any techniques. They results in either clinching the attacker and getting stabbed multiple times or they grab the arm, wrist or knife and end up missing or losing control. Again ending up being stabbed. 

We are the educated and use brains as well as Brawn. Why take the risk? 

This obviously is my personal opinion using some real life experience and I'd like to know what others think as well. 

Keep safe buddy, speak soon. 



I'm with Moshe on this one.  While I guess some people who don't see and work with blood every day may get "squeamish" and run away or lose heart, I certainly wouldn't depend on that, and I suspect that someone who is attacking you with a weapon would be even less likely than an untrained citizen to exhibit that response.

Grip is the next consideration. Blood is slippery, drying blood is tacky; I know because I work with and in it every day.  Having blood on your hands, especially the gripping palmar surface, will most likely cause your grip on a weapon to be less secure.  I can't see any benefit in that.

As far as the hands and how they function, the palm is infinitely more complex and complicated than the dorsum (back) of the hand.  Through the palm run the flexor tendons, which must be intact to allow for gripping and fist-making.  Branches of the median, radial, and ulnar nerves also course beneath the palmar skin, and provide important sensation and dexterity to the fingers.  If these nerves and tendons are injured, the hand becomes useless for anything other than a slapping tool.  Conversely, the extensor tendons run along the dorsum (back) of the hand, and are superficially located.  If severed, you will lose the ability to fully extend the fingers (as in a military salute), but flexion and grip will still be possible to allow you to fight more effectively.  While no injury is welcome, an extensor tendon injury is vastly preferred over a flexor one for the immediate ability to continue functional fighting, and are relatively easy to repair later, in contrast to a flexor injury, which is much more technically difficult to repair and prone to complications.  For these reasons, I was always taught by my Kali instructor to protect the palm at all costs, using the dorsum of the hand to deflect the attacker's forearm during our knife defense work.

As far as continuing to fight when injured, I believe we're all familiar with the body alarm response and the release of adrenaline, endorphins, and enkephalins, which allow us all to continue, sometimes unaware, despite sustaining an injury.  Assailants high on stimulants and hallucinogens are another consideration and may render pain-compliance techniques useless.  However, severed flexor tendons will still render a hand useless, no matter how jacked up the victim is.  Stimulant or analgesic intoxication cannot overcome destruction of function; for this reason the pelvis is taught in many circles as a primary target for pistol and rifle shot placement on an advancing attacker.  It is not an immediate kill shot like a brainstem shot, but the assailant will stop.  No degree of drug intoxication will enable an attacker to walk or run with a shattered pelvic girdle.

Based on the above reasoning, the concept of purposefully cutting or allowing oneself to be cut, especially on the palm, seems ridiculous to me.  I hope this helps, and am looking forward to meeting Moshe at GMKM's upcoming seminar.



ER doctor, student of Hal Herdndon, Ga, USA


Training with loaded guns or real knives is not only dangerous but stupid. One mistake could result in the death or serious injury to a student or instructor. Not to mention it is a lawsuit waiting to happen, where the gym owner and instructor could be charged with a crime, assault with a deadly weapon or man slaughter. There is no kind of liability waiver that would protect those involved.  


Taves Maciel, Colorado, USA


Here is my thoughts...this behavior is unacceptable.  In all seriousness, why intentional sacrifice any part of your body when you may need any part of your body as a means of self-defense?

Also,  the probability of getting cut is already high in defending against a knife why increase the odds.  you would have to be very accurate to only get cut on the "dry side" of the palm.  if you miss and accidentally move the knife near the pointing finger and thumb you just cut through a main artery.  Not a chance I want to take!

Statistical facts prove that a cut as shallow as 3mm can cause shock.  In some fighting systems using weapons it is recommended to slash the extremities and or forehead.  not because it is deadly but because of the "shock" factor.

Gary Bril. Florida

Wow. Again, very disturbing to hear this is happening.  As a nurse and Krav Maga instructor, I can see many things wrong with teaching this. I do tell my students that during any kind of knife defense, there is a chance you may get cut. However, it is something that we must try to do everything we can to avoid. It should be a priority to protect your vital organs as well as arteries in defending yourself. While your hands do not contain any major arteries, they are still necessary tools you need to defend yourself.You brought up many good points as to why we should not intentionally grab a blade with our hands. I completely agree.

Carrie Banton, USA

hi Moshe

wooowwww ,This is crazy, unacceptable.

To grab the blade ... and get injured ... so if you are not trained in this szenario ... I think you will lose this fight also your live.

Maybe special forces – which train to get hurt, they can deal with this situation... but ? is it necessary ? NO!

A cut in the palm means ... mostly a cut in important anatomical structures ... a cut in the palm – and you can not make a fist ... your fingers will open and the hand is weak.

Many people are collapsing when they see that they are bleeding ... so how to fight back if you are collapsed.????

You know I am a professional Nurse and I am trained as a bodyguard ... so I can deal with blood and also with pain ... but is this a reason to accept to get injured??? NEVER! If he cuts my right hand – the strong one – so what is my defense ??

I am not able to punch, not able to hold a gun and not able to fight with a knife ...

I think everyone of us can grab a knife with full power ... and nothing will happen – no cut! ... but if the opponent moves the knife maybe about one inch ... you get a cut!

What about Nurses and Doctores  in Hospital ... there are many surgery knifes ... they are not comparable with a Knife .. they are much much sharper ... if you grab the blade ... you get a cut- a deep cut...

shavoua tov

Juergen, Germany

Greetings Moshe,

I hope and pray that you are doing well my brother.

I wanted to offer a perspective on your latest "Blood" blog...

It is quite silly to me that someone would really think you need to train with a real knife to get a "real" training experience.  There is no reason that an individual couldn't put some gear on and work with another responsible level headed partner and train in realistic knife defense.  Martial arts has always attracted insecure individuals who are trying to compensate for some insecurity through talking tough or performing senseless acts of high risk training.  Insecurity can become a person's greatest liability as they overcompensate to try to prove to themselves and others that they are really "the man".  Their pride will become a liability to themselves, to those they may be protecting and to any who learn from them.  Ultimately I think that is what is at issue here more than the technique.  The appropriately motivated protector would not concede to take such a risk in training that could permanently handicap themselves or others.  I believe more important than anyone's skill, athleticism, speed etc., is their motivation and maturity.  The best skills and techniques are useless when dominated by a mindset that is reckless and immature.   

I am all for making training as realistic as possible as long as it stays safe to all who are participating.  I think it is of utmost importance that we train in realistic means so we are not fooled into thinking our techniques are foolproof when they have only been used against cooperative partners.  However, this does not mean loaded guns, live blades, and an out for blood mentality.  I would severely question the character of individuals training in that manner. 

I am with IKI because you Moshe have the right motivation.  Your techniques are great and you embody the heart of a true protector.  I believe the mark of a good instructor first and foremost is good character and maturity.  The "tough guys" that are instructors only to be in front of people for their own validation should not have a place in your organization or any for that matter.  We can't control them, but we can uphold what we stand for.  Thank you for your faith based perspective that seeks to honor God by protecting life and upholding righteous principles.   


Colby Taylor, Michigan, USA


I am a trained and licensed EMT and have limited knowledge about this, for what it's worth.  I have three things to suggest here:

  1. The sight of blood does tend to shock and scare people (especially those who are not used to seeing it), as you stated.  So being cut and seeing blood can cause a person to lose focus on his or her attacker.  With the elevated heart rate and blood flow that necessarily accompanies a physical confrontation, bleeding would tend to be increased, causing even greater shock.
  2. Building on the idea of the increased heart rate and blood flow during a physical confrontation, it doesn't take long for a person to lose enough blood for a cut to be fatal if not treated immediately. So I don't believe that willingly accepting a cut to ANY part of the body is wise.  And there is no way to guarantee that a cut will be confined to the "dry skin" of the palms, as you stated in your original post.
  3. My biggest concern here, added to your comments, is that a cut to the tendons of the palms or fingers renders the hands useless.  A person should never sacrifice the hands in a fight (which is why I so appreciate your teachings about using the forearms and palms rather than fists in a fight).

I hope that helps in some way.

Mike Jensen, Colorado, USA


Let me just state that being from the medical community I would not advocate grabbing a knife with my hands, this will not end well and could risk permanent damage. Brings to mind a quote that I just posted the other day. "Every one is born ignorant but one must work hard at remaining stupid."

Greg D., Illinois, USA

Hi Moshe, hope you are well.

I am actually writing this in response to your Blood Krav Maga blog. My story is from a little different perspective. 

I cut someone in a fight 45 years ago and I remember it as clearly as if it were this morning. It was a stupid, stupid mistake, I don't even remember what started it. His palm was up pushing toward me and I cut his palm in the meaty portion just below the thumb. We were both shocked, I was instantly disgusted with myself. The cut was only about two inches long but the skin separated instantly, there was no blood at first but the muscle pushed out all blue and purple separating the skin. 

I learned two valuable lessons that day. Never ever pull a gun or a knife on someone unless you are defending yourself or your family, that includes play and training. Regardless of the reason, you will live with the consequences forever.

Second, the guy reported it as an accident, forgave me and we were friends for years. What if I had seriously hurt or even killed this person? Both of our lives could have been ruined for no real reason.

An instructor cutting himself purposefully to show his students everything will be ok is just ridiculous. 

Forgive me for rambling again, but thanks for listening Moshe.

Best wishes to you, your family and all IKI staff and members.

JD, Okeechobee Florida

I had some guys from another style want to come in the gym and train with real knives. I declined but did watch his video. The "disarms" they practice look a lot like a cooperating uki that is flowing with the defender. Looked more like a rehearsed circus act than self defense. I can't believe people are grabbing the blades. Fingers come off like sausage links. Seems more like an ego thing to say you train with real blades. 

I don't see any advantage to training with a real blade. I have a friend that was stabbed 6 times once in a fight and didn't even realize it until he went home to shower afterwards. because of the adrenaline you don't feel the stab. he was lucky to live. if you don't feel the real blade then what's the point in training beside machismo.

Chris Cromer, South Carolina, USA